UVU yoga and pilates trainer Lacee Whiting sat down with Jefferson Albright, host of the Wellness for Wolverines podcast, to discuss the impact yoga, meditation, and other forms of exercise had on the spiritual wellness of students.
Whiting explained in her interview that years prior, a close friend of hers (who happened to be a personal trainer and yoga instructor) invited her to some of his yoga classes. “I was going through hard times, and yoga and meditation really helped me through school as well as [other] hard things I was going through at the time,” Whiting explained.
Having experienced the mental and spiritual relief that came from yoga and practicing mindfulness, Whiting wanted to become a personal trainer herself so that she could help other people in the same way.
This attitude never changed. Even after receiving the necessary training and experience to become a yoga and pilates instructor at UVU, Whiting stated, “I not only want to teach … because it is good money, but also because I want to help people through stressful times and to work through healing, whatever that is for them.”
The focus of the conversation then shifted to the diverse wellness benefits that come from exercise and nutrition. “I look at all the aspects of how exercise and nutrition can help me: mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually,” Whiting explained. “I think that is a really huge deal — I think that a lot of people look at exercise and wellness as just something physical, but it really does help you in all those other aspects.”
Referring to the emotional and spiritual benefits of exercise and yoga, Whiting did admit, “It makes a difference to have someone there to help guide you along the way.” However, Whiting clarified that individuals could also “learn to help self-soothe … [through] meditation or different breathing techniques” if a personal trainer was not available.
“The Ujjayi breath, scientifically, is proven to calm your nervous system,” Whiting explained about breathing techniques she thought would be beneficial for students. “If you take a moment to do deep breaths in and out of the nose … when you are feeling very stressed or need to calm your nervous system,… [it] will help your mind and your body to relax and calm themselves.”
Whiting also provided a tip on how students could perform meaningful meditation. To do this, she suggested using mindful “intentions,” or goals for each meditation session. For example: “if you are wanting to let go and relieve stress, anxiety, depression; if you are wanting to work through traumas or letting go of negative thoughts or negative feelings; those are some things that you can set as intentions.”
Everybody meditates differently, and that is perfectly okay. According to Whiting, “meditation is just practicing mindfulness which allows you to have any of your thoughts, any of your feelings, to just come. You think them, you feel them, you acknowledge them, and then you just let them pass through.”
Although meditation methods may vary by student, the end goal is the same: increased mindfulness and spiritual wellness.
“Each of us are different, and we each want to do different things, Whiting emphasized. “Life is all about figuring out, day by day … so don’t be hard on yourself!” she exclaimed.
If you would like to hear the full podcast, please visit uvureview.com and navigate to the podcast tab. This podcast reviewed in this article is Wellness for Wolverines, Season 2, Episode 11. If you would like to attend a yoga or pilates class led by Lacee Whiting, please visit the UVU SLWC website.